Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rooftop Fun

One of the things that is no fun but needs to be done is roof maintenance. I have a strange vertigo thing – if I perceive there to be danger I am afraid, but if I feel safe or secure I have no fear at all.

This evenings thankless task? Scrubbing moss from the roof after applying Roof Wash.


Radiant Heat Thermal Pictures

I kind of forgot to post these previously – but back in March I had a “home energy audit” done. I had done this once before in 2011 with Grandma so I knew what to expect and this was more of a follow-up to analyze some more changes I had made.

Since I know the guys who do the audit (and they did awesome work here previously) – at Foam-It Insulation – I asked if they could also bring over the thermal camera. If you aren’t sure what that means – a thermal camera is a special digital camera that reads infrared (heat)…so if you point it at your outside wall and there is no insulation, you can basically “see” it. I happen to have radiant floor heat in the downstairs space of the house…so if I point the camera at the floor, I can see exactly where the tubing is buried in the floor, and if there is a leak it will show up as well.

There is a bigger story here, as it was believed when we moved in that the radiant heat was broken (50 years on, it had served it’s time.) But after Mary and I moved in I did some testing and figured out that it wasn’t – I’ll save that story for another post, but needless to say it saved us at least $10,000.

So, of course they hand me the camera and let me wander around and take pictures of things. So for those who are nerdy, here is what embedded radiant heat in your floor looks like – the bright spots are the tubes of hot water running in the floor. These shots are of the downstairs bathroom and laundry room floors. For fun I threw in a shot of the boiler, and some upstairs shots where you can see exactly where insulation is still missing from some walls:

Lamppost Repair

Outside the house are a nice matched (or at least close) exterior lights – three at the doors, and two lampposts on the driveway. Before moving in I was sure we were going to replace them. I had even gone so far as to pick out what I thought we would get. But as we got into the interior renovations, we realized that one of the key colors of the house was black – black metal interior railings, black metal supports for the back patio, and black exterior lighting. Cleaning and repainting the railings really made me realize how good they look if you just clean and paint them. Most of these also have an accessory outlet in them, making them super convenient if you need electricity in the middle of the yard (for say, a weed whacker.) So off I went to try my hand at getting these looking awesome.

As you can see in the first couple of pictures, they were pretty whipped. I actually repainted these once back in the late 90’s. Somewhere in the interim, my Grandmother also asked my aunt’s husband to do it – he did it about as quick as you could with a can of spray paint, hence all the overspray on the glass. For this go-round, I took the lights completely apart and scrubbed them, giving everything a good steel wool (000 fine) wipe-down, including the glass. I then hit all the parts with the classic go-to: Rustoleum protective enamel in gloss black – the same stuff I use on everything. As a renovation note: I find you get far superior results brushing on the paint than using the spray paint version. The coverage is thicker and better, and the finish has a much better gloss qualities. Most of these old fixtures are also made of lightweight aluminum, which is easy to maintain and does not rust and therefore is good to keep.

I’m pleased with the results.  Of course there are five lights…so I have a bit more work to do:

Details, Details…

When it comes to the renovation work, I’m a stickler for the details – the little finishing components that help unify and bring together everything you see. They are what really completes a project and brings your original vision into focus. Here are some of the details around our house that you might not notice at first, but they were carefully considered:

Bench legs – We have a fabulous kitchen banquette. It sits on ten short legs. They were originally gold in color – and made in Yugoslavia. The caps were rusty and they were clearly well-used, since they were original from 1961 or so when the bench was built. As part of finishing the kitchen remodeling, we got the bench recovered but I knew I also needed to tackle the legs. I could have found some new ones, but decided to see what I could do with what we had. Using the bench grinder and wire brush set on the workbench in the basement (thanks Grandpa Rynkus!), I stripped the wood, cleaned the metal, and eventually stained and repainted them. They now look like this:

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Breakfast at Camin’s

Doug’s grandmother was a skilled baker. She had the top of the line baking tools and gadgets needed to create special meals from scratch. Well before we moved in, Doug and I spent a great deal of time helping her go through her various items. When the time came, my job, alongside his grandma, was the kitchen. She rather enjoyed my adoration of her very beautiful and meticulously cared for kitchen items, including a 1950s Sunbeam W-2 waffle iron complete with a cloth covered cord.


We discovered our similar opinion in the vast difference  between a Belgian waffle and an old-school homemade waffle.The main and key difference being the size of the nooks. Once she realized my affinity for baking and cooking food from scratch, she began to set items aside for me that would stay in the house. The most prized possession, her waffle maker. Chromed, shiny, and retro at its finest. There was only one condition, I had to make good use of said items, and she wanted a continuous supply of waffles. Challenge accepted, Grandma.

As it turns out, the rules are quite simple with regard to creating delicious old-school waffles using a retro  waffle maker: Follow the instructions without deviation. Make zero substitutions. I learned this through several failed attempts at replacing key ingredients. This includes substituting butter for any kind of light butter, or whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Lastly, the cardinal sin of cooking and baking, adding items in a different order than what is specifically directed on the recipe.

I can confidently state that I am indeed following the instructions, since I still possess the original insert that came with the box. Yet another bonus from years of care from Grandma Rynkus. I received her waffle making stamp of approval a handful of times, and started making enough for my grandmother as well. The waffle maker also made an appearance at our Retro Breakfast Cocktail Party.

The next retro appliance: the Sunbeam Party Grill